Student Focus: Y3D Marcus Tang

Written by: Andrea Griego, Primary Student Support Coordinator & Sissy Shen, Primary Head of Chinese Department & PD Coordinator

Marcus Tang in Y3D won first prize in the 2018 International Students Chinese Writing Competition. This is an external event which is organized by the ’Pudong New Area Education Committee’ and the ‘State Language Commission’. The compettion is open to all international students in Pudong who are interested in participating. This year, the organiser received 1174 Chinese compositions from students in Year 2 through Year 13. Nine primary students from YCIS received awards and Marcus received first prize. Let’s take this chance to find out more about Marcus.

Ms. Sissy Shen: Hi Marcus, nice to meet you. Please introduce yourself and tell when and why you came to Shanghai?
Marcus Tang: Our family moved to Shanghai from the US in 2013, when I was almost four years old. For a long time, I was not quite sure which country I was living in. In my US kindergarten, we had classmates from different countries. Mom and Dad spoke both English and Chinese with us, but Ayi only spoke Chinese with us. After moving to Shanghai, it was the same, so I was a little bit confused. Not until I started to notice the shop logos and restaurant menus, which are mostly in Chinese, did I slowly begin to understand that I was living in a different country.

Ms. Sissy Shen: Can you explain your experience with learning Chinese?
Marcus Tang: Mom and Dad have been super busy after moving to Shanghai, so grandma has helped me to do my Chinese homework. Our Ayi doesn’t read, but grandma is a college graduate and helps me to learn Chinese. I was enrolled at YCIS when I was seven years old and since then I started to learn Chinese formally. After learning Chinese for a while, I found out that I could read stories, like simple fairy tales, in Chinese without asking my parents for help. I could even order my favorite dishes in Chinese, which encouraged me to learn Chinese even more.

I think both Chinese and English are quite interesting languages, especially when I compare them with each other. One time, Mom and Dad accidently bought two story books but they were actually the same story, one in Chinese and the other in English. My younger sister Michelle and I were very happy to read both versions and compare them with each other.

I love reading and playing football, Michelle loves reading too. The most enjoyable time for our family is reading together during weekends. Mom and Dad said that I began to speak very late, not until I was two years old. Maybe it was due to the complicated language environment I was in. Grandma told me that my first complete Chinese sentence was, “Bowed my head remembering my old home,“ which is from an ancient Chinese poem taught to me by my grandma. One day, grandma was giving me a bath and she said, “Bow your head, bow your head, bow your head,” then slowly I replied, “Bowed my head remembering my old home.” Grandma is always filled with joy whenever she remembers this.

Ms. Sissy Shen: That’s interesting. Thanks Marcus. Could you tell me why you wanted to participate in the International Student’s Writing Competition? You know the theme of this year is: “Love in Shanghai”. The organizer received more than one thousand Chinese articles, most of them are about Shanghai’s culture and scenery. Your article, which is about your little brother Teto whom your family adopted in Shanghai, touched the hearts of many judging teachers. Would you please share more about your thoughts with us?
Marcus Tang: I never dreamed that I would be honored to receive first place in this competition. While writing the essay, I missed my little brother Teto very much. Not long after we moved to Shanghai, we adopted Teto and we all loved him very much. He had to move from Shanghai to the US in the early part of this year, and our whole family missed him terribly. I always ask Mom and Dad why we couldn’t keep him with us, and they told me that Teto would have better medical care in the US, maybe he would be able to walk in the future. Moving to the US is a better choice for him. We love him and hope that he can play football and run as we do. His new American family already adopted a girl who was cared for very well and cured. Mom and Dad were convinced that the family has the ability to take better care of Teto, and they convinced me to believe that too. I miss him quite often, but since I know that he is doing great in the US, I am happy for him. After finding out the theme of the competition, I decided to write an essay in his honor and to help me always remember him.

Ms. Sissy Shen: Thanks Marcus. Your words are simple, but I can feel your deep love for Teto. Writing is a chance to have a dialogue with ourselves, life and the world. Keep loving life and enjoy it with your heart, there is always something which can inspire and touch us. We wish that every child has a chance to explore life with all their heart, and encourage them write down the beautiful and loving things that touch their hearts.

We are also happy to announce the following students who have received an honour award (first, second or third prize):

Y3C 李馨元 LI Xin Yuan(Sophia)
Y3D 唐中元 TANG Marcus Z
Y4A 蔡尔慈 CAI Er Ci Alysa
Y4A 沈煜杰 SHEN Yujie Jason
Y4C 郭润泽 GUO Ryan Yun Chak
Y6A 鄭海鏵 CHENG Hoi Wah(Daphne)
Y6C 张及洋 DAKI Karim
Y6C 杜卓言 DU Zhuoyan
Y6C 吴逸洋 NG Ian


Staff Focus: Ben Nakagaki, Secondary Mathematics Teacher

Written by: Roseline Yang, Community Relations Officer

Since the beginning of the year, I hear a lot of praises about you Ben, especially from parents whose children are in your class! They say how creative and engaging you are with the students. I was always wondering what you were doing that was so special. The other day, I was joining a French-Spanish speaking family visiting Century Park campus for their three children and we walked into your classroom: I loved the Maths Learning objectives you put on your wall as well as these funny photos having students reflect.

Yes, I know that learning Maths takes hard work, open mindsets, and a bit of fun.  So, I try my best to make learning Maths engaging as well as help meet the needs of each student. I am thrilled to work here because I have small class sizes, which allows me to tailor the learning individually and help every student improve, which was not always the case in the US.

Ah, yes! Can you tell me about all the usual questions: Where are you from, what you studied and where did you use to work before joining YCIS?
I was born in the cold state of Minnesota, USA. I had a wonderful time at the University of Saint Thomas (Minnesota) leading and participating in a number of clubs and graduated with a double major in Mathematics and Education.  I later got Graduate degree from the University of Saint Mary’s (Minnesota) and earned my Masters of Arts in Education.  I taught many levels of Maths for 12 years in an Secondary school in White Bear Lake, Minnesota where I led a number of clubs, coached various sports, and ran our version of our CAS club which had over 200 members every year!

What do you like so much about Math? Do you also have other passions?
I have always had a passion for Mathematics because I have always been drawn to its logic. Besides, it’s incredible how Maths is so present in the everyday world and that is a perspective I want to bring to my classrooms. I really like teaching using technology platforms that make math come to life, specifically Desmos and Geometer’s Sketchpad, which I studied through courses at UC Berkeley.

All that Maths makes my soul and body crave balance so I really enjoy playing basketball and golf as well as playing instruments such as the ukulele, viola, piano, and guitar.

Which are the levels you are teaching in Secondary school? What do you enjoy the most here at YCIS?
I teach Math to Year 7, 8, 9 and Year 11 and 12 and I coached the Girls Cissac Basketball team who were really great risk-takers.

What I like a lot here is the positive attitude of the kids, who come to school with a willingness to learn. In the US, schools are tougher because we need to focus a lot on classroom management. Here, the classes are nicer for their size and I can focus on the Academic part. Actually, here my challenge is that my Year 7 students will all raise their hands at the same time to participate. I am impressed by the community as well as the eagerness to share. What a wonderful struggle to have! (Hahaha!)

This is your first year here. How well did you and your family adapt in Shanghai?
We have all adjusted well. My wife and the girls enjoy Shanghai and YCIS a lot. Nina who is in Y2 has a lot of fun and Vivian in K4 as well. This makes it easy to focus, when your family is happy!

Nice! So, what do you like about the school from a parent point of view?
ECE: I love the mentality. I love the fact that the kids are working together. For example, in one of the SeeSaw posts, I saw that they were doing charts together. What a great way to learn!

Primary: A lot of homework from the US. point of view! But I understand that here in China, the environment is very competitive, so you have to adapt to it.

Let’s finish with what you like to do as a family here in Shanghai? 
We love to explore the city. It is humongous. There are so many different places and so many things to see, so many events and so many different food to try. Something fun that we have done in Shanghai is to stop at each metro station and see around the place. Now that we know better the city, it is so interesting to see how everything is connected.

YCIS Student Makes A Noise For Autism Awareness

Written by: Ms. Skingley, Music Teacher and Elena Yu, Year 10 Student


As part of her Duke of Edinburgh Award, Elena Yu was set the task of volunteering her time to a chosen cause to experience the benefit that her service could provide. As a talented musician and IGCSE music student, Elena decided that she wanted to share her talent, and the talents of her fellow students, with the wider community. Her creative spirit and enthusiasm for all things musical led her to organizing her own concert and, on 24th April, 40 students from local special education schools came to the CP Theatre to enjoy the student performances.

Elena organised this event in collaboration with Xiersen Child Service Centre as part of their AGame initiative. AGame seeks to promote awareness of special needs issues China-wide through activities that are fun, educational and inspiring. Working alongside them, Elena was able to establish a bond with this fantastic cause and make a real contribution to their vision.

When the local school students arrived at YCIS, they were greeted by some of our Year 9 students who welcomed them and made them feel at home. The concert featured performances from the Stage and Show Band, Voices, piano soloist Mark Ma and a small ensemble playing an original composition by Elena. With the help of the YCIS students, percussion instruments were handed out to the audience and everyone joined in with the music making. Everyone wore striped arms bands to unite students from all schools and raise autism awareness. Elena was keen for the event to be inclusive and about making bonds with students from other schools.

This type of event was a first for YCIS and, driven by Elena’s caring personality, is a true realization of our school motto in aligning Love and Charity with Culture and the Arts.

Memories of Primary School

Written by: Year 6 Students

Our time in Primary School is coming to an end. We have sat through countless classes, gone on numerous field trips, met some awesome teachers, and made many amazing friends. Now, we are ready to embark on a new journey: the journey into Secondary School!

As we come to the end of our wonderful time at Primary School, we have had the chance to look back and ask our fellow students about their favourite memories over the last 6 years at YCIS.

Ian Ng has been at YCIS since he was in K2. We asked him what his favourite memories of school have been. Initially, he was unsure. He had to think really hard as, “there are so many!” Eventually he settled on Year 5 Camp. Ian loved the experience, as it was the first trip overnight away from school. “The best part was when we were on the Bridges,” Ian said. He described how they were challenging, but a lot of fun. “Like a lot of things in Primary School.”

Overnight trips were a popular choice among students when remembering their favourite times. However, Karim Daki (at YCIS since Year 1) remembers the Year 4 Sleepover for different reasons. For him, things didn’t quite go to plan. He was very excited about getting the chance to sleep in the school, but he caught a fever on the day of the event. “I was disappointed,” he recalls. “The nurse sent me home, but even then I begged my Mom to let me go.” Unfortunately for Karim, the fever meant he fell asleep at home and missed his chance to sleep at Regency Park Campus. “Who knows?” asks Karim, “Maybe one day I will go back to RP and have a nap.” Our students never do give up, do they?

It isn’t just about what happened outside the classroom though. Many students told us funny stories of friends and teachers throughout their years here. Nina Leger, who joined in Year 3, told us about her teacher that year (Mr. Ryan Kravalis). He set the class a challenge to read 100 books. If they could complete this task, he would shave a funny message into his beard. They did. “He shaved LOL into his beard,” she giggled as she traced the letters on her cheek. Laugh out Loud indeed!

The memories we have made in Primary School are unforgettable ones. We will never forget the help and support that everyone at YCIS has given us over our years here: from the bus drivers, to the teachers; the lunch ayis, to the office administrators; the librarian, to the security guards. We thank you! And we look forward to coming back and visiting soon.

Goodbye Primary School. We will never forget you!

Love and Charity in Action at YCIS

Written by: Roseline Yang, Community Relations Officer

If you pay attention to the people at YCIS, you may start to notice that our school is filled with many charitable hearts who care for the people surrounding them in the school or outside the school, in Shanghai or outside Shanghai, who care for the wellbeing of the country they come from or the country they live in, who care for others even more than for themselves, who care for the planet more than for their own comfort.  

This is how we have practiced Love & Charity in our YCIS Community this year:

 Great Wall Half Marathon for a Hospital in London 

I would like to thank everyone for your kind and generous donation to my charity fundraiser.  The money is going to Guys and St. Thomas Hospital in London, a hospital that is very close to my family and me.  In total I have raised 4396 RMB from Shanghai and an additional £250 from England totalling around £750.  

I managed to run the half Marathon in 2 hours and 37 minutes. It was a fantastic experience being able to run on the wall; hopefully some of you will be able to experience it in the future.  I thank you again for your kindness and support.   

Terence Moran, Design Technology Teacher

 First child benefitting from the fundraising efforts to Heart to Heart 

We wanted to say thank you again to all who have supported our Heart to Heart fundraising efforts this school year. As previously mentioned we were able to donate 6 Heart surgeries. The first recipient had surgery last week and is a little boy named Wang Hengli from Shandong Province and he is 2 years old. A couple of us were able to see him the day he came out of recovery. The family was very grateful for all all the support from YCIS. We will keep you all posted as the next 5 children come in and visiting those children will be possible at assigned times.  – Nadine Runkel, POP Liaison Officer  

We were also able to go and see the sleeping boy—who was so, so cute! We got a wonderful tour of the facility and the sorting room, and of course learned so much about the fabulous work Heart to Heart does. Highly recommend a visit when the next child has his/her surgery!  – Message from Ana Eccles, YCIS Parent 

We were told many, many times how incredibly grateful everyone at Heart to Heart is to YCIS – we are one of their biggest sponsors and supporters!  Every surgery we fund saves the life of a child who would not be able to have surgery without our donations.  This changes the lives of the whole family and also the entire village community!  And, I’m not sure everyone is aware, but Heart to Heart is 100% volunteers – no one who works there gets paid!!!  So everything we give goes directly to the families in need.  Truly a remarkable organization – so proud that our YCIS community is able to do so much for them.– Heather Louis, YCIS Parent 

2000 Km Walk in Europe to Raise Awareness for the KIM Philippines Project 

As most of you know I will be walking the 2000 Km “Via Francigena” pilgrimage beginning June 1 from Canterbury Cathedral all the way to the Vatican in Rome which I am aiming to reach by August 10.  I am very pleased that I will be joined for the launch in Canterbury and for the first few days of the walk by Sophie Che from YCIS-CQ, Chris Perks from YCIS-SH, and Karin Jensen from YCIS-HK as well as YCIS-HK alumni Diva Wong.   

I’m doing this adventure to raise awareness for Seeds of Hope as well as solicit donations for our “Common Project” with Kids International Ministries in the Philippines.  All donations received through the page will be given directly to Kids International Ministries

The donation page on “Simply Giving” is live now:   

I look forward to sharing with our students and staff across Yew Chung & Yew Wah the amazing “Seeds of Hope” stories I’m sure to experience on this adventure.  

Stephen M. Hackman, Head of Christian & Community Development Division, Yew Chung Education Foundation 

As you may know, this year as we celebrate the 85th Anniversary of the Yew Chung Education Foundation, the Yew Chung International Schools (YCIS) and Yew Wah International Education Schools (YWIES) have re-branded all of their charity work under the banner of Seeds of Hope (SoH).  SoH is now the overarching charity programme involving the whole school community with the aim to reach out to “love our neighbor as ourselves” and plant “seeds of hope” in a needy world. 

Our YCIS Legacy

Written by: Timothy Gartz, University Guidance  & Janelle Garrett, Lower Secondary Coordinator

This year, amongst our graduating students are several who have been a part of our YCIS Pudong community for many years. To appreciate their journey and the impact YCIS has had on them as well as the impact they have made on our campus we recently held interviews to hear their perspectives and stories.

Interviewees include these Year 13 students who began their journey at YCIS Pudong in year K4: Marcus Tan (Singapore); Y1: Anna Xie (USA); Y5: Elizabeth Robinson (Australia); Y7: Kenneth Tng (Singapore);  Y7: Lorenzo Cavalleri (Italy).

With so many fond memories accumulated over the years at YCIS, it was interesting to hear which ones really stood out. These included Global Child Day over the years; a memorable Abba-inspired performance as they transitioned from Regency Park to Century Park campus; a trip to Tokyo in Year 8 for World Scholars’ Cup with outstanding older students who inspired them; Student Council elections; performing onstage in school musical theatre productions of Godspell or You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown; a first stage-kiss in Romeo and Juliet; and several incredible moments on the many YCIS trips over the years from Seeds of Hope service trips to sports and academic competitions to EOTC trips all over China and especially the Year 12 trip to Thailand.

They credit these experiences with shaping who they are today:


“My experience at YCIS so far has been my whole life, so I don’t know anything else. I’ve met great people in this school and developed a passion for art inspiring me to pursue real world applications of design to hopefully make a career out of it.” (Marcus)

“YCIS CP allowed me to get involved in a wide range of activities to become a more balanced person…I would like to continue to be a lifelong learner in a breadth of subjects. I don’t wish  to be narrowed down to one area and plan to study a dual degree combining the Sciences and Arts.” (Libby)

“YCIS has shaped me into a more outspoken and questioning person. The small and inclusive class sizes are able to create the perfect environment for in-depth discussions between teachers and students, be it about curriculum work or international affairs or life.” (Kenneth)

“I learned the importance and value in having strong relationships with teachers and asking help whenever I needed it. I’ve also become a more adept and concise writer, which will help as I study film at NYU.” (Anna)

“YCIS has helped me become a confident public speaker, having the opportunity to speak in front of others for a variety of purposes and audiences has made a big difference.” (Lorenzo)

The legacy the Class of 2018 leaves behind at YCIS extends is well beyond the awards they achieved, the trophies in the display case, the murals they painted on the walls of the corridors, the clubs they founded and shaped, the service projects they led, the traditions they helped establish with different Student Council events, and the leadership they inspired and nurtured in their fellow students.

The kindling power of the relationships forged at YCIS cannot be underestimated and will surely continue to inspire as they go around the world to pursue their dreams.

Senior Class of 2018 Look Aheads to Studies at Top Universities

Written by: Timothy Gartz, University Guidance 

As IB Examinations at Century Park Campus draw to a close, much excitement and joy are felt for this impressive cohort of IB students as they prepare to graduate, heading towards outstanding university opportunities. Led by Head Prefects Lorenzo Cavalleri and Cindy Liu, this group will no doubt leave a lasting impression on Pudong Campus. Several have been with us since commencing in ECE, with all growing into students who have fully embraced the academic, extra-curricular and leadership opportunities offered at YCIS. Importantly, they have truly become caring and critical ‘thinkers’ actively promoting, and educating their peers on the attributes of the IB Learner Profile, and modelling ‘global citizenship’.


Embracing the wide array of learning opportunities at YCIS has led to impressive university offers. With a class of 14 graduates, these offers already extend to 6 countries across the globe even while a few of these students have yet to apply or receive offers due to later application deadlines to Singapore and Australia. Impressive, our Year 13 graduates are averaging more than 5 offers per student and include some of the very best universities listed in US News and World Report, The Times Higher Education World University Rankings and The Russell Group such as: Science Po in France and The University of Durham, King’s College (2), University College London (2), and University of Warwick (3) in the UK. In North America: The George Washington University, Sarah Lawrence College, University of Rochester, University of California Santa Barbara, and New York University in the USA and McGill University (3), University of British Columbia, and University of Toronto (5) in Canada.


Closer to home, students have earned acceptances to Hong Kong University (2), HKUST, and Hong Kong Polytechnic and in Japan: Keio, Sophia University (2) and Waseda University (2) to name a few. Because of the caliber of our students, several have earned prestigious scholarship awards that offset some of the tuition and costs of higher education. Within this cohort, we have potential Scientists and Chemical Engineers, Computer Technicians, Artists, Veterinarians, Philosophers, Economists, Business Managers, one who is interested in Film Studies and another with so much talent she remains undecided. Working closely with them, we see their futures bright with limitless potential. We congratulate our Senior Class on their outstanding achievements in academics and for the way they have led our school this year in service, extra-curricular activities, sports, and in a powerful demonstration of friendship. Your impact and legacy has been and will remain extra-ordinary. Congratulations YCIS Pudong Class of 2018!